Chinese experts can see little immediate possibility of hostilities breaking out between the US and North Korea – but warned that Beijing will respond harshly to any further North Korean nuclear tests.

Gui Rui, the director of Jilin University’s Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, said US president Donald Trump’s domestic troubles should prevent him taking such action, while North Korea does not appear to be on a war footing.

“Although the tension in the Korean Peninsula is pretty high, it’s not high to the point of having an imminent war,” Mr Gui said.

Another nuclear test would invite tougher measures from Beijing, possibly including new restrictions on Chinese companies’ investments in North Korea and cuts in the number of Chinese tourists allowed to visit, Mr Gui added.

Pang Zhongying, of the School of International Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University, agreed that military action was unlikely, but said another North Korean nuclear test would mark “the crossing of a red line” which China was prepared to respond to.

“I have no idea what exact measures China will make this time, but one thing is for sure that they will be much tougher than those we’ve seen in the past,” the academic said.

Earlier, North Korean minister Han Song Ryol said his country will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity”, and warned that Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that is what Mr Trump wants.